Graphics Don’t Matter to Gamers as Much as Developers Like to Think

Crytek’s CEO, Cevat Yerli, has come out and said graphics matter for 60% of the game. If we look at Crytek’s games, most notably the Crysis series, it’s easy to believe that they think graphics are more important than story, character development, gameplay, sound and everything else that goes into creating a video game. The Crysis games are graphically gorgeous, but I personally feel that they fail to become anything more than just another shooter.

Yerli makes a good argument as to why graphics are so important.  He says: “Graphics, whether it’s lighting or shadows, puts you in a different emotional context and drives the immersion… And immersion is effectively the number one thing we can use to help you buy into the world.” Everything he says is true and even though gamers like to say they don’t care about graphics, it is the first thing you notice when playing a game. Amazing graphics immediately blow you away, but what developers need to realize that graphics, much like good looks, are only skin deep. Sure we’ll be amazed for the first ten minutes, but quite quickly we’ll begin to realize that maybe the story isn’t that great, or that the characters are really unlikeable. For example, many Final Fantasy fans have complained that the recent games have failed to be much more than pretty cut-scenes. Ultimately, developers need to realize that other factors are more important than graphics.

Back when video games were first invented, we didn’t care much for graphics. We were quite happy for a few pixels on a screen as long as the actual gameplay was fun. Now, times have changed and gamers are more demanding, we expect the graphics to be stunning. Although you could argue that back in the old days, a few pixels on a black screen were incredibly impressive to us. However, even with all the visually stunning games out there, we still replay our old games. Why? Well, they not only because they bring back great memories, but they were also fun, and when it comes down to it, that’s all that matters.

far cry 3 blood dragon

Developers need to realize that most gamers aren’t that vain. We won’t care if your game isn’t ground-breaking graphics wise, as long as your game keeps us entertained and has a good story. If you went back to about five years ago, you could probably argue that graphics were the most important part of a game, but now, we’ve kinda seen it all. Yes, every so often a new game comes out and blows us away graphically, but it’s rare these days. Now, we expect more from story. We want something fresh and new, as we almost expect a game to match up to blockbuster movies. We expect good graphics, but it’s not the be all and end all any more.

Perhaps Crytek need to take a good, hard look at their games. Yes, Crysis 1, 2 and 3 all look amazing, but do they actually break any new ground? It’s especially hard with a FPS, as it’s a genre we’re all becoming increasingly bored of.  So many first person shooters fail to be new and innovative, and they end up being bland as a result. Plus, retro is all the rage right now.  Just look at Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. It shows that not only do gamers love to replay their old games, they love new games which are made to look retro.

Developers, graphics aren’t so important and they certainly should not account for 60% of the game like Crytek believes. Video games were created to be fun, not to look beautiful. Let’s focus on having fun and telling a story that will make us want to play today’s games in ten years time.

(Thanks to thesixthaxis for the info)

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  1. Visualiza

    “Video games were created to be fun, not to look beautiful. Let’s focus
    on having fun and telling a story that will make us want to
    play today’s games in ten years time.”
    This quoted text sums
    up how shortsighted the gaming community has become.  This “gameplay
    & story is all that matters” snobbery got out of hand a long time
    ago.  The idea that visuals, an important artistic characteristic of the
    games we love, won’t be appreciated as time passes is downright
    disrespectful to both the artists who create them and the people that DO
    indeed appreciate them.  
     What you seem to be missing is that
    gameplay and graphics aren’t mutually exclusive, on the contrary,
    they’re intrinsically tied together in the case of most games.  Think of
    God of War.  What would Kratos be without his iconic look?  Would the
    gameplay be as satisfying without the visceral, violent animations that
    the series is lauded for?  As for the setting, how would Greece be
    distinguishable from any other fantasy scenery without its unique
    style?  The lighting, textures, color palette and several other
    aesthetics add to the mood and accentuate Kratos’ world, not to mention
    immersing the gamer in the illusion.  Without ALL of these things, God
    of War would be just another Streets of Rage, so please, keep the
    highbrow snobbery in check when you try to tell us all what it is we do
    and don’t appreciate.  
    Fact is, when it comes to visual design,
    most people can’t even articulate what it is that stimulates them. 
    There is as much science and technical properties to artistic design and
    visual stimuli as any programming language, and it seems that more and
    more people are losing both appreciation and knowledge of it.  There are
    too many dedicated artists working far too hard to make these games of
    ours look beautiful for us to just dismiss them as secondary,
    superficial, or unimportant.  Playing a game that looks great pulls you
    in and immerses you moreso than one that doesn’t, which is, oddly
    enough, the same thing that smartly designed gameplay and plot does as
    well.  There’s no reason why all can’t be present, it’s high time we put
    this silly argument out to pasture.  The mentality shouldn’t be 20%
    this, 35% that, it should be 100% visuals, 100% plot, 100% sound, 100%
    gameplay, etc., as most good games are equally stellar on all fronts
    anyway.As far as I’m concerned, the people who say that graphics
    don’t matter as much as any other aspect of gaming are the same type of
    people who have no appreciation for art in its various forms, and take
    the history, principles, and applications for granted.  Graphics
    matter.  I won’t say more or less than any other thing; the very idea is
    pure nonsense, but they DO matter and carry as much meaning and value
    as any written text or clever plot trope.

  2. Vaygora

    Don’t forget Minecraft! The graphics are unique, but purposefully low-res; the main emphasis is creativity. Just look at how mind-blowingly popular that game is!

  3. Darth_Mooo

    Saying graphics matter for 60% of the game is a ridiculous statement. Good graphics can certainly add a lot to an experience depending on the type of game it is, but if you don’t have all the other more important things there first, such as decent gameplay and dare I say it, fun.. well, you may as well have a pretty box which is empty.
    Also I agree that the Crysis games are just another shooter. I gave the second game a go as it was free on PS+, and I found it to be pretty boring. Having great graphics is all well and good, but if that’s the only thing you put effort into, it’s not going to be very memorable.

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